vapourtrails

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Jul 18, 2016
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I’ve been looking at the Apple watch since it was first released but have so far hesitated in getting one. The two areas that interest me are heart rate tracking and sleep tracking. Would I be better served with a cheaper alternative or do you think the Apple Watch has found its niche?
 

Mikeeee

macrumors 6502
Sep 27, 2017
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I think those things are part of what the Apple Watch can do but only part. The technology and capabilities are still in their infancy. Remember it's only a few years old. The list of capabilities will continue to expand and evolve. Personally if I wanted to track sleep and heart rate without a chest strap and I also wanted to benefit from the other cool Watch capabilities I'd go with the Apple Watch versus another limited device.
 

Otflyer

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Nov 14, 2017
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SF Bay Area
I think those things are part of what the Apple Watch can do but only part. The technology and capabilities are still in their infancy. Remember it's only a few years old. The list of capabilities will continue to expand and evolve. Personally if I wanted to track sleep and heart rate without a chest strap and I also wanted to benefit from the other cool Watch capabilities I'd go with the Apple Watch versus another limited device.
I agree. The Apple Watch offers so much more than monitoring vitals.
 
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Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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I’ve been looking at the Apple watch since it was first released but have so far hesitated in getting one. The two areas that interest me are heart rate tracking and sleep tracking. Would I be better served with a cheaper alternative or do you think the Apple Watch has found its niche?

The Apple Watch is a multi tool. It offers different functionality for everyone. I don't use sleep tracking capabilities, but I do think the heart rate sensor works fairly well.

My suggestion to you, is try to find a Series one Apple Watch, which should have more than enough capabilities to see if you actually like what it has to offer.
 

sean000

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Jul 16, 2015
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I’ve been looking at the Apple watch since it was first released but have so far hesitated in getting one. The two areas that interest me are heart rate tracking and sleep tracking. Would I be better served with a cheaper alternative or do you think the Apple Watch has found its niche?

I think for many of us the Apple Watch demonstrating many purposes from day one. I've had mine for over two years, and it's probably the only gadget I've ever owned that works better after two years than it did when I bought it. For me the best part of wearing one, aside from the fitness tracking, are the silent notifications and the kinds of information that it can make available in a glance.

If the only features that truly interest you are sleep and fitness tracking, there are options out there that cost less and/or don't have to be charged as frequently. I wear my Apple Watch to bed for sleep tracking (using the Pillow app), so that means I charge my watch twice a day: It goes on the charger at night while I'm putting the kids to bed or relaxing. Then I put it on for bed. When I wake up it still has about 85% battery, but I put it on the charger while I'm showering and getting dressed. That tops it off very quickly. I don't consider this routine any more of a hassle than charging my iPhone and iPad on a daily basis. If this would be a concern, you might look elsewhere. There are devices that need to be charged less often (I used to own a Fitbit), but those devices don't offer enough features or apps for me.

Sean
 
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Nell

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Jun 25, 2012
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There are devices that need to be charged less often (I used to own a Fitbit), but those devices don't offer enough features or apps for me.

I have also had Fitbits. The battery lasts longer between charges but in a way that makes a routine impossible. As a result, I regularly found my Fitbit out of battery but my watch is always charged.

The Fitbit app is good but the devices don’t last well (my Charge was replaced three or four times under warranty).
 
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sean000

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Jul 16, 2015
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I have also had Fitbits. The battery lasts longer between charges but in a way that makes a routine impossible. As a result, I regularly found my Fitbit out of battery but my watch is always charged.

The Fitbit app is good but the devices don’t last well (my Charge was replaced three or four times under warranty).

I agree. I can remember running low or out of battery on my Fitbit because I'd forget that I needed to charge it every now and then. A nightly charging routine is easy to remember and do, and that has kept battery life from being any issue at all with my Apple Watch.
 

canyonblue737

macrumors 65816
Jan 10, 2005
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I’ve been looking at the Apple watch since it was first released but have so far hesitated in getting one. The two areas that interest me are heart rate tracking and sleep tracking. Would I be better served with a cheaper alternative or do you think the Apple Watch has found its niche?

Sleep tracking apps are good on the Apple Watch but all require you figuring out a consistent way to "top up" the battery on the Apple Watch during the day. This for me at least is tricky to do on a consistent basis to the extent it isn't worth it to me, I just charge overnight. With Fitbit or Garmin with their 5-14 day battery life (depending on model) it wasn't a big deal to find a time somewhere there where you could lounge on the couch or at a desk for a while and charge the unit and then wear it 24/7 for days on end (including tracking sleep) but with Apple Watch it *will* require more effort and planning. If you are ok with that sleep tracking is certainly in the cards.

Apple Watch does do a nice job of heart rate tracking and presenting it to you but some caveats:

1) Apple Watch only records heart rate every 5-15 minutes during normal wear, increasing that to every 1-2 seconds during a formal workout. That compares to Fitbit and Garmin where they track HR every 1-2 seconds 24/7. It sounds like a huge difference but studies have shown the practical results in tracking trends and calorie burn is essentially the same and Apple Watch is smart enough to look at your HR a "bit early" if you start moving etc. Still, I'd rather see every 1-2 seconds all the time and you can bet Apple will do it once they feel it won't impact battery life as much.

2) Because many folks *don't* wear their Apple Watch at night you likely won't get your true lowest resting heart rate recorded. Apple Watch will now report daily resting heart rate with watchOS 4 but for most this is the lowest while *awake* which will likely be higher than your true low. I'm not sure it matters much as long as you are comparing Apples to Apples (pardon the pun) but its just something to be aware of.
[doublepost=1512407118][/doublepost]Just a few more thoughts (I've used everything Fitbit makes and many high end Garmin fitness watches including their Fenix line)...

1. Fitbit goes for "casual" fitness. By that I mean people who run but don't care about intervals etc. on the watch, just going out and seeing distance, time and pace. They track heart rate on the run, during indoor cardio workouts and during weight lifting (although these optical heart rate trackers tend to become error prone during sports involving squeezing your hands.) For 80% of us this is more than enough. Battery life is great, presentation on the device stinks but the app on your phone is very nice. Notifications from your phone to device happen but aren't a great presentation.

2. Garmin goes for "serious" fitness. Lots, lots, lots more metrics tracked, some of which are important to serious athletes who are following a detailed training plan and some of which are not actionable by anyone but satisfy the inner geek in all of us (did you know I push off .7% harder off my right leg than my left? crazy i know!). they have slightly better presentation on device than Fitbit and the devices are built more ruggedly but the user interface and presentation is still poor/ugly and just "gets the job done" rather than make you happy looking at it. their app on the phone is ok, not nearly as easy to use or nice to look at compared to Fitbit but it is showing a lot more complicated data so that makes it tricky.

3. Apple goes for the same "casual" fitness crowd as Fitbit. Apple doesn't do any of the fancy metrics that Garmin does although some 3rd party apps help bridge the gap. The problem is the 3rd party apps are in some cases buggy and kinda ugly and who knows if that app developer will even be there in a year etc. I'd do Apple Watch only if you fit in the same fitness crowd as the Fitbit folks. That said where Apple kills everyone is in the presentation. Raising your arm and having that incredible screen light up is just so far ahead of what Fitbit and Garmin do and it is just plain satifiying with bright vivid colors and awesome presentation of your "basic" fitness data. As for notification alerts no one is in the same universe. The whole process of "knocking" your arm (vs. the cellphone like cheap buzz from the Fitbit or Garmin) to alert you, to not lighting up the watch with your alert for the world to see until you raise your arm, to a beautiful clear easy to read notification, to actually allowing you in many cases to respond directly from your wrist its the REAL reason to get an Apple Watch.

So... Fitbit if you are a casual fitness buff to save money and if you want easy no brainer sleep tracker. Garmin if you are serious runner, weight lifter, or triathlete who needs very detailed metrics and on device guidance through detailed workout plans. Apple Watch if you are heavy Apple user who wants awesome looks and presentation, tight integration with notifications and casual fitness tracking.
 
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